How to Change the Storyline of Your Photo with Photoshop

Photoshop Changing Your Photo Story

Adobe Photoshop is able to aid modern-day photographers in editing and enhancing their photographs.  There are a variety of reasons as to how the software has changed society; however, the most prevalently discussed is that it allows photographers to modify their images.  We will go through each way in which Photoshop is able to help inspired artists with their desired representation using the Elements 6 Version 6.0 Software.

Let’s talk about how we can change the storyline of our images.  For example, the two images shown below are nearly exactly the same; however, in the second, the model is looking down because of a bird that has “landed” on her drink.  Which is the truth and which is configured?  Sometimes, it is obvious, but let’s show you how you can make people believe a different reality within your images.

The top image is the original, whereas the bottom has been changed using Photoshop. 

Using Photoshop Actions to change the storyline of your photosUsing Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Actions

To start our process, you would choose an image, in this case it’s the top image and bring it into Photoshop.  Next we Googled “bird,” found one whose rights were labeled for reuse, and added it into Photoshop as well.

On the opened bird image, use a lasso tool   and draw a circle around the bird.

Using Photoshop's Lasso Tool

Go to Edit > Copy, and then go to the main image of the girl.

Photoshop copy and paste      

In the window you will go to the “Layers” window and click the left-most icon (that resembles a post-it) and add a new layer.  I’ve named this “bird” and then proceeded to Edit > Paste.

When you open new layers, you are able to move, transform, and edit solely the layer that you wish.  For our project, I will move the bird and begin to erase the background of its former image.

Photoshop Erase background

While erasing, make sure to set the Opacity to a lower percentage.  For this image I’ve chosen 29% so that the pixels can look more like textured features and blend better with the new background.

Photoshop move tool

After erasing and while still in the “bird” layer, the bird can be moved to the desired location.  Match up the claws with a realistic location that they would be grasping onto. 

Once that is complete, use the burn tool   (often found with the dodge tool) to darken some of the areas on the bird and on the can, creating shadows.  Shadows made on the bird will have to be within the “bird” layer, and shadows created on the can will have to be made on the other layer.

At this point, you have positioned and made a more-realistic overall picture.  You’re ready for the next step!

Photoshop Merge Visible

The next step includes merging both layers to create one image that you may edit simultaneously.  Right-click a layer and choose the “Merge Visible” option.  Once this is completed, then you will begin working to adjust the lighting, contrast, colors, and other details that could be worked on to create one better constructed image.

Photoshop Adjust Lighting Levels

Now the next step becomes going to the task bar and choosing Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Levels.  For your convenience, if you are a novice and want an easier step, you can do the Shadows/Highlights and Brightness/Contrast options separately.  Once you feel that you have an idea of how both work, I suggest moving onto learning Levels.

Photoshop Using Levels

The graph itself shows all the values of pixels within the image. The left corresponds with black values, moving towards shadows, mid-tones, highlights, and to the right as white values. The range

Moving the left-most pointer arrow under the histogram will increase black tones, making areas darker, but moving it too far will make the whole image dark. Moving the right-most pointer arrow under the histogram will bring out white tones, but too far will create an under-exposed overly-white image.

Once the photo is to your liking, you are able to do minor adjustments and touchups based on your preferences. Personally, I left the image as-is and decided not to change the colors.

Now you have your finalized image and a newly realistic image!

This is a prime example of how Photoshop alters reality and changes our perception of certain situations. Here, we changed the narrative and added elements that didn’t exist in the same space prior to our modification.

Although this isn’t “true,” it gives us as artistic creators a chance to express the reality we desire. Photoshop gives us the opportunity to enhance our natural reality to become what our imaginations have conceived. Let your imagination run free as you embrace the change that Photoshop software has brought to the realm of photography.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, continue the fun of editing!

Kristen Berezniak, a current student at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey who will be attending Northwestern University in Evanston, IL this Fall. She is the Spring 2017 winner of the Pretty Photoshop Actions Bi-Annual Scholarship.

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